Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant with long-lasting effects on the body. Long-term use of meth can lead to several mental health disorders. Depression is perhaps the most common co-occurring mental health disorder seen among people who use meth. Chronic abuse of methamphetamine drugs can cause symptoms of psychological illness, such as alternating moods of mania and depression.

It is not known if meth could be the cause of depressive disorder in some people. Depression may lead a person to have poor judgment, leading to meth use. While either one could come first, meth can still lead to states of depression when the person is coming down from a high. With chronic meth use, dopamine levels can become severely depleted in the brain, resulting in an impaired ability to experience pleasure.

Because the individual’s brain isn’t producing these pain relieving and euphoric chemicals, depressive feelings may emerge when the meth use is discontinued.

Meth abuse and depression together create cyclic states of hopelessness and euphoria. Approximately 40 percent of adults using amphetamines have a lifetime history of depression. So even though it is not completely certain if meth use will cause depression, it is understood that it can make depression symptoms appear or worsen.

Post-Meth Depression

While quitting meth, psychological withdrawal symptoms are common and present the biggest challenge to the individual withdrawing. As with all withdrawal symptoms, the severity will be affected by factors including the length of time the person used meth, the amount is taken, the presence of other medical conditions or additional drug use.

After an individual’s last dose of meth, it takes about up to 48 hours for it to completely vacate their system. Mood begins to shift dramatically around six to ten hours after taking the last dose. Because methamphetamines raise the levels of dopamine in a person’s brain, withdrawal most notably affects feelings of pleasure and reward. This occurrence is extremely common. Approximately 95 percent of people who use meth regularly reported feeling depressed and anxious when they’re not taking the drug.

Methamphetamines destroy dopamine receptors in the brain. After stopping the use of meth, individuals may descend into a deep depression and experience the inability to feel pleasure.Feelings of depression emerge as the brain struggles to cope without the chemical surges it has become accustomed to. Things that used to bring the person joy to lose their appeal as the depression lingers.

Additional psychological withdrawal symptoms may include paranoia, psychosisanxiety, agitation, suicidal thoughts and lucid nightmares. These symptoms can be severe and may last for weeks. However, depression can persist much longer.

Through meth use, the brain is hit with surges of dopamine that it can’t possibly create on its own, leaving the individual taking the drug feeling listless in its absence. The brain has likely been damaged by meth’s harmful properties.

Fortunately, there are a few approaches to repairing the brain and returning dopamine to normal levels.

Co-Occurring Depression and Meth Addiction Treatment

Untreated co-occurring methamphetamine use and depression can interfere with successful treatment outcomes. When seeking treatment for meth addiction and a co-occurring mental health issue, it is critical to find a recovery center that specializes in co-occurring disorder treatment. The Recovery Village® offers qualified staff working around the clock to assist patients with their treatment of co-occurring disorders.

Some of the features of depression, such as isolation and lack of motivation, make participation in some recovery and treatment activities nearly impossible without professional assistance. Meth addiction and co-occurring depression can increase the possibility of self-harming behaviors and suicidal thoughts. Combined treatment using effective medications with cognitive-behavioral therapy and a supportive aftercare plan can increase the chances of successful recovery from both disorders.

People with depression may seek out a self-medicating treatment of their symptoms, even if it is short lived. It is not uncommon for individuals with a mental disorder to seek out illicit or prescribed drugs to feel better. Because the body eventually grows a tolerance to the drug, the person may begin to abuse the drug. Self-medicating is common, it can lead to overdose or even death.

Treating a methamphetamine addiction usually requires a comprehensive detox process. Detox involves removal of meth from the individual’s body and helping their bodies adjust to functioning without meth.  With co-existing depression, treatment should also address the psychological damage done by meth and help individuals in recovery learn how to cope with their symptoms without substances.

Key Points: Depression and Meth

  • Meth use may lead to depression; however, depression may also lead to meth use and other risky behaviors.
  • While it can be challenging to live with co-occurring depression and meth addiction, both conditions can be managed if proper recovery is sought out.
  • Attempts to treat depression without treating the meth use or vice versa are often unsuccessful.
  • While this may provide temporary relief from both disorders, it doesn’t treat causes of both conditions or the ways they affect each another.

If you have meth addiction and a co-occurring mental health issue, you need comprehensive treatment that addresses both disorders. The Recovery Village® offers co-occurring disorder support and treatment with mental health professionals available around the clock. If you or someone you know has depression with a co-existing meth use disorder, call The Recovery Village® to speak to a representative and begin the recovery process today.

MentalHelp.net. Meth Addiction and Mental Health Problems.